WOSSNAME -- SEPTEMBER 2009 -- PART 5 OF 6 (continued)
====Part 5 -- ABP AND HOROSCOPE
27) ABP BITS
28) YOUR MONTHLY DISCWORLD HOROSCOPE
27) ABP BITS
27.1 A QUESTION ABOUT WIZARDS' UNIFORMS...
Just a little question about the wizards in the Discworld novels. Do
excuse me for asking this question and, in doing so, looking like an
idiot; I'm sure the answer's mentioned in at least one of the books.
I was just wondering about the UU uniforms. I mean, in the Last Hero
(and it has been mentioned before e.g. in Last Continent), Ponder
Stibbons wears grey, yet the other wizards wear red. Just
'Pondering', why are there differences in uniform? (*looks ashamed
of her pun*)
The only thing uniform about wizards is that they all wear a
wizard's hat. The robes and such are more a sort of style than a
uniform. Each wizard, almost by definition will have a different
robe and indeed a different hat. But it will be a Wizard's Hat. As
has been pointed out many times in the books, a wizard is never
naked if he has his hat.
One gets the idea that the wizards are so generously proportioned
and comfortable with themselves that if they accidentally wandered
off without any clothing on, the shrieking masses would quickly
provide cover in self-defense.
-- Free Lunch
Yep. Kidby, though, does deck out of *all* the wizards for whom a
robe colour hasn't been specified in the same shade of burgundy,
which I consider to be one of the man's few mistakes.
Out-of-story, the reason Ponder's robes are a greeny-grey with a
rabbit-fur hood is to resemble the Official British Anorak, symbol
of trainspotters and other geeks.
Strangely in Sorcery we have the line "Rincewind couldn't disobey.
He gingerly removed his battered grey hat, looked longingly at its
dishevelled star..." The first mention of red I have found is in
Interesting times "most of the red colour had faded to shades of
orange and brown, but to his relief it was a proper wizard's robe".
Mmm...not sure where all the red robes and hats come from in the
text, but certainly both artists have always opted for the red hat
and robe ensemble.
-- Reader in Invisible Writings
*Imagines a wizard in a pink robe and hat, with purple and orange
spots* *...then shudders* So really, the whole red/burgundy thing
was kinda Kidby's idea (and possibly Kirby's idea, too)? Granted, it
was never really specified which colour each wizard wore. Still,
kind of makes poor old Ponder stand out, no?... Interesting bit
about his robe resembling a parka, though!
Isn't there a connection with academic gowns? In RL, different
universities have different colours for their gowns, and different
linings for the hoods of the gowns, with or without fur, depending
on the subject their wearers studied. The faculty of any given
university wear the gown and hood of wherever they got their
highest degree, but only on ceremonial occasions.
27.2 ...AND ANOTHER ABOUT WIZARDS', UM, RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES
I was reading the Discworld novels, and I'm a little confused about
a small detail. If wizards can't marry or have kids (to prevent
Sourcerers yada yada yada...), how come Ridcully once had a little
'fling' (if I can call it that) with Granny Weatherwax, and also he
permits Mr Stibbons to stay at Lancre with Diamanda, even after
suspecting romantic interests between them (referring to Lords and
Ladies)? Or is there a loop-hole somewhere? Just a-wondering...
Romance is not the same as procreation. Some people have difficulty
with the distinction.
I get the distinct impression *student* wizards can do what they
like, since they aren't wizards yet. In L&L, when discussing What
Might Have Been, Granny points out that if their relationship had
come to anything Ridcully wouldn't have been a wizard.
And in Making Money, we're told the reason the Department of
Necro... sorry, Post-Mortem Communications has so many students is
because the black outfit and skull ring is a "babe magnet". This
doesn't explain Ponder, though, who graduated in MP, some time
Esk and Simon? They weren't exactly prospective parents, but they
were left as a 'couple' to do interesting things with witch and
Isn't a sourcerer an 8th son of an 8th son of an 8th son? In which
case, the first 7 'dalliances' should be safe...
IIRC, it is sex which interferes with magical abilities on
Discworld. For many of the student wizards, this is likely not to be
a reason enough to refrain from it, in a similar manner as the fact
that alcohol impairs cognitive abilities doesn't stop some from
heavy drinking. Those talented enough and with an organism strong
enough will still finish their studies - Ridcully made his final
exams with a prize-winning hangover.
Presumably, as the wizards start being more powerful, the actual
experience of doing magic is likely to trump the experience of sex
(cf. Rincewind in TLF), so it ceases to be tempting.
As to Ridcully's affair with Granny Weatherwax, it's clear that
there was no sex involved. The proof to that is Granny's interaction
with the unicorn in L&L.
TBH, I don't recall any connection between Ponder and Diamanda, even
as a mere recommendation from Ridcully. But in MP (I think), there
is a mention of Ponder Stibbons trying to sneak out of the UU to
have a merry time, and after an unpleasant experience deciding not
to leave the premises of the UU ever. So no affairs with babes are
likely any more. The truth is, though, that the Ponder Stibbons
described in MP is so unlike himself in the follow-ups, that in the
Czech translations he appears as two different persons with
The sourcerer him/herself doesn't necessarily get any sex, just his
progenitors (which will naturally be the case for wizards too!).
I've a vague feeling that sex doesn't bother sourcery, but I'm not
sure there's text evidence on the matter. It's been a long time
since I read the relevant books.
Gosh... this is getting more confusing the more you look into it!
It's what people think and many Wizards believe to be the case. It
is in the start of Sourcery that the real reason is given.
As said by others, its procreation (and specifically of an 8th son)
that is the problem. OK any children of Ridcully and Weatherwax
would have been Wizards or Witches, but not especially a threat to
reality, or even particularly noticeable. (cf LF Archchancellor
Weatherwax and WA Lily Weatherwax - Granny's older sister CJ Alison
Weatherwax -- Granny's Grandmother) Other Wizards have been noted to
have liaisons such as the dead necromancer (Professor Flead in MM)
who had a concubine. Oh and the Wyrmberg Wizards/Sorcerers never had
There are hints that Rincewind even had dalliances LF "Rincewind
knew what orgasms were, of course, he'd had a few in his time,
sometimes even in company" but it then goes on to indicate that
magic is much more satisfying (for him at any rate).
-- Reader in Invisible Writings
It is clearly stated that Granny Weatherwax ran too fast for at least
one swain, and a unicorn and Nanny Ogg both believe her to be a virgin.
She and Ridcully may have had a dalliance, but in never got as far as
the bedroom/hayfield/cave on the moors.
Ponder in MP is a student (and probably not a very good one) who by
a fluke becomes a graduate. He is like the person who finds that
to multiply 15 by 32 he needs to write it down or preferably look
it up in his Log tables (which contained many tables that were
swept away by the electronic calculator). The very ones who
embraced programmable calculators and then computers as soon as
they could get their arms around them.
Thus he would have been right behind the creation of a 'thinking
engine', something that those "smug students turned over their
papers by snapping their fingers" would not have seen the point in.
When we see Ponder next we are 4 books further on who had the
ambition to "spend the next hundred years ... in the University".
-- Reader in Invisible Writings
I always took it that it was more heartily discouraged rather than
outright banned. If I'm remembering correctly, A Hat Full of Sky
said that the witch, Mrs. Earwig was married to a man who was more
or less described as a retired wizard. So maybe the more rule-
abiding sort kind of turn in their staffs, knobs and all, when they
decide to marry. No word that I recall on whether they married young
enough to possibly have children or if they had any children...
The "ban" seems more stringent near the first bit of the series.
Short of doing the wizard equivalent of "disbarring" you by not
allowing you to live/work/eat at the University or join wizarding
orders, I don't really see how they could put a lot of teeth behind
it, anyway. Maybe the production of Sonky's Penny Preventatives made
the arrival of accidental bundles of sourcery less of a threat?
As the Discworld Companion says, if magic cared whether you had sex,
Nanny Ogg would be a washerwoman.
Oh, I'd forgotten about that, but you're right. It's more explicitly
said in "The Sea And Little Fishes":
"She's married to a wizard," said Granny "You can't tell me that's
"Well, wizards *can* marry, you know. They just have to hand in the
staff and pointy hat. There's no actual law saying they can't, so
long as they gives up wizarding. They're supposed to be married to
It could be that once you've given up being a wizard, you're less
likely to father a sourcerer (the magic within you drains away, or
something). Ipslore the Red's problem was that he *didn't* stop
being a wizard. It could also be that this is one of them alternate
pasts Sirpterry sometimes mentions. Maybe the events of Sourcery
disrupted things for the History Monks so much that they quietly
changed history so sourcerers didn't happen.
Or maybe the "retired wizard" mentioned there was NOT, in fact, an
eighth son of an eighth son? Not all wizards have to even be eighth
sons, let alone 8th-of-8th, after all. And, of course, if he didn't
sire eight sons himself, then there wouldn't be any risk of an
"eighth son of a wizard", let alone an "8th-of-8th-of-8th" --
although the magic might well have still passed on to whatever
children he did have, as well. It was pretty clear that Ipslore was
a true 8th son of an 8th son, and had 8 further sons, of which Coin
was the last, and that Coin was "a wizard squared... a source of
magic... a sourcerer".
(Of course, if wizards have affairs or one-night-stands and don't
even know how many children they have as a result, then you might
get an 8th-of-8th who doesn't even know that he is one (and never
takes up wizardry as a result), or even an 8th-of-8th-of-8th,
popping up where nobody expects it. Which of course is a *very
good* reason to discourage wizards from having sex at all.)
On the other hand, there's that young wizard in /Mort/ who
practically doesn't do magic any more because of Princess Keli ...
Perhaps it's different for women and men.
28) NOT THE NEW DISCWORLD HOROSCOPE
by Fernando Magnifico
Buongiorno, it is I, Fernando! The Lady Asterisk is unavailable
today, for she has been bitten by a haggis, but do not fear my
friends, you must be brave, for Fernando shall *not* be your
Fernando is shamed and mortified, for he is prohibited from writing
the horoscopes today. For you see, Fernando's membership of the
Guild of Prognosticators, Soothsayers, Fortunetellers,
Oneiromancers, Haruspices and Cunning-Men (divers wizards, witches,
priests, priestess and Mrs Cake exempted) has expired! My friends,
Fernando is heart-broken, for he has used his Gooseberry to send the
membership renewal to the Guild a week ago, but it has been lost!
(Fernando has his suspicions that the despicable Carlos is
Until the problem is resolved, Fernando is banned from casting the
horoscopes for you, and the Guild official Cornelius Fludd is here,
watching Fernando write in his magnificently strong and manly but
still elegant penmanship, to ensure that Fernando makes no
predictions or horoscopes. So instead Fernando will answer a letter
from a reader, Archibald Kumquat III of Seven Sleepers in Ankh, who
[Continued in Part 6]
End of Part 5, continued on Part 6 of 6.
If you did not get all six parts, write: interact@...
Copyright (c) 2009 by Klatchian Foreign Legion